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Kissing Panic!!!
Mar 5, 2001

Dear Ryan: This forum is wonderful. Thank you for your insight. Here's my dilemna. I had a sexual encounter with a bisexual married man. There was no oral or anal sex, just frottage and deep-kissing. I panicked over the kissing later and called the CDC Hotline and was told that "it's difficult to document a risk." Does that mean deep-kissing IS high risk for HIV? Other STDs? PLEASE answer!!!!!!!

Response from Mr. Kull

Please, don't panic!!!

The CDC basically says that transmission through deep kissing is theoretically possible (coming into contact with infected fluids), but there is no conclusive evidence that it has ever happened. We would probably see a great deal more cases of infection if HIV was transmitted through kissing.

The hotline operator was probably referring to a phenomenon called the "masking effect," which means that when someone reports being HIV infected, the route of transmission is generally attributed to the one representing the greatest risk. For example, if an HIV infected person has engaged in kissing, unprotected oral sex, and unprotected anal sex, transmission will probably be attributed to the unprotected anal sex. This does not mean that we KNOW that this person was infected through anal sex. It's possible (but remember, unlikely), that the actual route of transmission, like oral sex or kissing, was "masked" by the reported anal sex route.

Kissing is not recommended if there is "visible blood" in the mouth. Otherwise, the normally low concentrations of virus in saliva should not pose a real risk for transmission.

RMK



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